BUSINESS

Fitch to downgrade some euro zone states

Fitch expects its ratings review of six euro zone states will result in downgrades of one to two notches in most of those countries, senior director Ed Parker said at a Fitch conference in Madrid on Thursday, Chicago Tribune informs. Fitch put Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, Italy, Ireland and Cyprus on negative watch late last year on December 16. Fitch told the euro zone at the time that it thought a comprehensive solution to the bloc’s debt crisis is was beyond reach. Rating agency peer Standard & Poor’s cut ratings on a swathe of euro zone states earlier this month. As for Spain, Parker said the review would take into account the new government’s recent actions to cut costs and implement reforms, but said “there are continuing problems with the public finances and bank assets and the labor market is dysfunctional.” Parker said the review would be concluded by the end of January. Credit rating giant Standard & Poor’s said Thursday it expects an increase in the corporate debt default rate in 2012 as a result of a “shallow recession”, ABC News informs. The ratings company is predicting a 6.1-percent default rate for 2012, compared to 4.8 percent at the end of 2011. S&P said country risks, rather than cyclical swings, will be the main driver of corporate defaults.

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